Most mornings for a few weeks now, myself, and my wife on some days, walk to the lake that is right near our house. We walk in one mile, and back out and home. We sit by the water. We spend time in nature. It is an amazing way to begin the day for me.
As I walk in at the lake, I spend the first mile considering what I am grateful for. Initially, when I first started this morning ritual, I would make a list in my mind, of all the people, things and circumstances in my life that I have gratitude for. It enabled me to find gratitude for things in my life that might have felt challenging, or persons in my life that I had conflict with, or thought that I did, at one time or another. It helped me to more deeply understand that gratitude is not just for the pleasant things, but for each and every thing, event, or circumstance that I find myself in. Learning and growth comes from every experience.
Recently, instead of a list of things to be grateful for, I find myself simply feeling gratitude, being in the presence of that feeling. To do this for me, means to be completely in the moment; and when my mind wanders, to come back to the present as often as possible. A state of gratitude is remembering that everything that comes to me is a gift; every moment has something that it is offering to me, has beauty, depth, and value; and that if I am in a state of gratitude, I am able to see the beauty and worth in every moment.
Brenda described that to someone yesterday as being in a state of grace. I have always had a difficult time understanding the concept of grace, and what that really means. Yet, I believe that I have an understanding now that makes sense to me. To be in a state of grace, for me, is to be present, and to be prayerful. I may not be consciously saying prayers as I walk every morning, yet I am certainly aware of the beauty, sounds, and smells all around me, and have deep appreciation for them. I am aware of nature and all that She offers to me. I am aware of the strength and beauty of my body as I walk and move. I am filled with love and compassion for others that are in my life, and beyond. I feel inspired, blissful, peaceful.
I finally understand, that grace means to be present to my world, to all that is around me, and to honor its beauty and worth with my thoughts and presence. Grace feels like a prayer that doesn’t feel like a prayer in the way that I have previously known, yet in such a more powerful way than I have experienced before. Grace is Presence. Presence is Grace. And when I remember that, I am filled with a peace that I have never known.